‘Pick a battle, fight it yourself’
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
May 13, 2014 | 1821 views | 2 2 comments | 80 80 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Virgin ground has been broken in Patterson politics.

A spouse has shown up at a public meeting to defend his other half— one who serves as an elected official.

The spouse being defended is Councilmember Sheree Lustgarten. About a week and-a-half ago, her husband Jeff appeared before the City Council and, among other things, offered a defense of his wife.

In particular he said he took offense at comments made about the couple at a previous council meeting by former Councilmember Annette Smith. He also noted that this newspaper had published a letter to the editor from Smith that voiced the same tone – criticism of the Lustgartens.

Jeff Lustgarten threw into his comments that Smith is an employee of the Irrigator. (Actually, she’s a commercial printing consultant for that department of the business. The printing trade is one in which Smith has considerable experience.)

The implication was that Smith had a hand in the newspaper’s editorial policy. I’m assured she does not, but that’s not the point here.

The point is the precedent-setting appearance before the elected body of the spouse of an elected official serving on that panel. If memory serves me correctly, this hasn’t happened here in Patterson in the past 50 years— or probably ever.

I can’t imagine the spouses of Kathy Wright, Linda DeForest, Pat Maisetti, Kay Corwin, Phil Breasher, John Ramos, Becky Campo, Wade Bingham or any other past councilmember appearing before the local body to do battle to defend the family’s honor. Lustgarten’s appearance certainly was a “first” in this community.

And a first elsewhere as well. I can’t imagine the wife of a county supervisor appearing before a board meeting to challenge critics of her husband – critics that possibly include the Modesto Bee. Or in state or national government. Even Hillary bit her tongue after Bill’s dalliance created national furor.

I’m not implying that Jeff Lustgarten’s appearance was in any way illegal. He has the right to speak publicly at official meetings, or reply in letters-to-the-editor if he chooses. He knows the Irrigator’s policy. It will run letters critical of itself – and has, many times. His are welcome.

He also used the opportunity to complain that the Irrigator twice took down from its website a story about his wife being honored as one of 10 outstanding women in Stanislaus County. After publishing the story and distributing the newspaper to all Patterson addresses, that website accusation seems somewhat petty.

Just for fun, I asked HM (Housemate) if she ever thought of defending me over squabbles I experienced in 40 years in the newspaper business. And there were many.

She gave me that “pick a battle, fight it yourself” look.


The group of Patterson business owners who are currently reviving our Chamber of Commerce really hit a winner with an offer from US Bank for free office space.

The offer is for free office space in the bank’s downtown. The space was formerly occupied by Dr. Steve Pittson. Interior walls and restroom work remains to be done before the organization moves in.

I shouldn’t say “free,” for the five-year lease is for $1 a year. The group decided to pay for the five years in one lump sum. Architect Martin Salmon quickly whipped out a $5 bill to cover the expense.


Let’s all wish Dorothy Wiesendanger, who lives far up Del Puerto Canyon and over into Santa Clara County, a belated happy birthday. She turned 104 on May 7 and remains a reader of this newspaper.


A reader called about my suggestion that we clean up the community, starting with returning shopping carts to their respective owners – local businesses. (They aren’t personal property and should be considered stolen if removed from business property.)

What about garbage totes left in alleys behind residences? she asked. She was referring, of course, to those of us who have alleys where our totes must be placed for weekly pickup.

Good thought. These totes should not remain in the alleys all week, but many do.

Ours doesn’t because it encourages the homeless if left out. Scattered garbage and trash up and down alleys is both unsightly and unsanitary.


For a number of years my mouth has watered for a Hank’s Deli sandwich. Longtime Patterson residents will remember the late Hank Wong and his delicious moderately-priced sandwiches-to-go from his downtown location. Those sandwiches provided many a noon-time meal.

And then I spotted an ad in this newspaper for the same – Hank’s Deli sandwiches. I was overcome with that warm fuzzy feeling.

So I drove to the corner of South Third Street and El Circulo (not an avenue) where the rotating sign on the roof still advertises “Hank’s Deli.” The building is now the location of St. Vincent de Paul, but the kind folks there are selling just about everything but sandwiches.

No, head out to the shopping center on the west side of town for that treat. I’m told the sandwiches are patterned after the original. I shall soon make the test.


Isn’t it great to check the standings daily and see both the Giants and A’s atop their respective divisions. (This was written on the weekend.)


Remember Abe Lemons? Sure you do.

He was a famous basketball player and college coach who said, “The trouble with retirement is you never get a day off.”

Wise guy, that Abe.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 20, 2014
Actually, Mr. Salmon is not a state-licensed architect. One call to the California Architects Board at (916) 574-7220 or an email to cab@dca.ca.gov will lead to the discovery that a license has not been issued to him - according to their records.
May 21, 2014
Dear Mr. Subspecies:

Mr. Gibson is Gibson/Salmon Group's signatory architect for California projects. Mr. Salmon is just an owner and the manager of the company, as well as the principal designer of all G/SG projects.

Please send any inquiries directly to:

Gibson/Salmon Group

P.O. Box 93

Patterson, CA 95363

Thank you for your interest.

Martin Salmon


Gibson/Salmon Group

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